Can TV Shows Solve Korea’s Dating Problems?

In the last year, 20 reality shows about dating and relationships aired across South Korea, sparking national conversation. But can these programmes help the country face up to its sceptical dating culture?

Statistics show a 23% decrease in newly married couples in the past 5 years, with South Korea having the world’s lowest fertility rate. A survey by the Korea Population, Health and Welfare Association shared that two-thirds of young singles were not in a relationship, with a significant portion of that group having no desire to start one.

Despite this, the country has seen an increase in shows related to dating. These include shows that put singles together, but also reality programmes about couples who refuse to get married, LGBTQ relationships, and divorced singles getting back into the dating game.

The head producer of a show about unmarried couples who live together, explained that it isn’t supposed to encourage couples to remain unmarried. Rather, it is a method of sparking debate across Korean society. 

This represents a shift in Korean culture, with people becoming more accepting of different types of relationships. Lim Myung-ho, a psychology professor at Dankook University, told the Japan Times that this is a step in the right direction.

“The government and society really need to make efforts to foster a more positive attitude towards dating and marriage and these reality programs can help with that”, the professor shared.

While national conversations are good, they don’t yet address the causes of relationship dissatisfaction, which are seen to be the country’s gender inequality and how expensive it is to raise children.